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Dry Needling: What is it and how can it help me?

What is Dry Needling?

Dry needling is a procedure performed by skilled physical therapists extensively trained in the safe delivery of dry needling technique. During a dry needling procedure, a single-use, thin, filiform needle penetrates the skin in order to stimulate underlying myofascial trigger points and muscular and connective tissue. Dry needling treats trigger points– palpably taut bands of muscle tissue—and other conditions of muscle, connective tissue, and fascia with the goal of eliminating or reducing pain and dysfunction.1 It is used in the treatment of a wide variety of musculoskeletal pathologies, including low back pain, neck, knee, and shoulder conditions, TMJ, and migraine headaches.

How does it work?

When a dry needle is inserted into a trigger point it stimulates a response that allows the taut band of tissue to return to it’s normal resting state and length. In addition, blood flow increases to the area, delivering oxygen and nutrients and removing noxious wastes that our nerves perceive as painful.  Interestingly, it is called ‘dry’ needling because nothing is injected into the skin!

How does it feel?

Most people report only a mild, very brief discomfort as the needle is inserted. The needle itself should not hurt once it is inside the body, however, it is likely that you will feel a dull ache or cramp that subsides as the needle elicits the body’s response.

Do I need a prescription? What about insurance?

In Virginia, a prescription is required for dry needling; your physician may prescribe it along with your initial physical therapy prescription, or your physical therapist may request that your physician prescribe it during the course of physical therapy treatment. In either case, dry needling requires informed consent, which means that you are educated about the procedure, your questions are answered, and dry needling is administered if you give consent. Most insurance plans do not cover dry needling, and Lucas Therapies offers dry needling as a cash pay option.

At Lucas Therapies, dry needling is performed within the context of an evaluation to determine whether it is an appropriate treatment option. When dry needling is appropriate, it is incorporated into the broader plan of physical therapy treatment which typically involves exercises that address underlying  dysfunctional movement or postural patterns, manual therapy, and other interventions that promote pain relief and healing. Interested? Please give Lucas Therapies a call on 540-772-8022 to learn more about dry needling and other therapies we offer that help you achieve optimal recovery, function, and performance. We are eager to help you!

1 http://www.apta.org/StateIssues/DryNeedling/ClinicalPracticeResourcePaper/

Written by: Lucas Therapies DPT, Carol Jacobs